Regional agricultural development policy in West and Central Africa: The precondition
The contemporary decline in food production per capita and pervasive, poor agricultural performance in the West and Central African countries are both a domestic political issue and an international trade matter. Thus, the agrarian crisis in West and Central Africa and the possible solutions to it pertain to good governance and fair international trade. Clearly, bad fiscal policies, ill-conceived development priorities (i.e., commodity-led export and urban-centered development strategies), mismanagement, and unaccountability have resulted in the squandering of the resources originating in the rural areas and have created a disincentive for production in this sector. In another respect, unfair international trade practices such as dumping of meat and cereals have also discouraged local food growing and unduly thrown West and Central African small-scale and low-resource farming into competition with modern and subsidized land cultivation in Europe and elsewhere. To be responsive, any approach to sufficient food production and sustainable agricultural development in West and Central Africa must be regional in scope. Yet to be able to surmount the obstacles to regional development and, thereby, be effective, regional agricultural policy in West and Central Africa must include accountability and popular participation, the preliminary condition for which is redistribution of political power and a check on central authority.